Starred Review. Today, notes contributor Jim Datz in his intro, drawing patterns with the fallible human hand is an art perched at the treacherous meeting place of authentic human craftsmanship and a world largely defined by trendsetting and online consumption: ideas, "almost at the moment they begin, are lifted, collated, named, and marketed in a willful act of pattern recognition by today's cultural curators." Though many of the patterns collated here were designed for commercial purposes (turned into t-shirts, skate boards and other product by hip designers), they make a strong impression as art-for-art's sake. As Datz further notes, "we are pattern seeking animals," and these selections are strangely gratifying, sometimes even meditative. Many designers share the aesthetic of popular contributor Jeremyville, clearly influenced by graffiti, cartoons and Keith Haring; others, like Deanne Cheuk, opt for retro colors and a hint of kitsch. Artists like Mario Hugo and Kirk Hiatt show a sparse, modernist approach, while Dan Funderburgh creates traditional floral wallpaper designs tweaked with, say, fire hydrants and parking meters. This makes a fitting following up to Perry's well-received catalog of hand-drawn letters, Hand Job; not only does this fun roundup help define a growing subgenre, it's also a rousing introduction to more than 50 young artists.
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Michael Perry is a graphic designer and a typographer who has used patterns in his work for clients such as Zoo York, 2K, Zune, and the New York Times Magazine. He is the author of Hand Job: A Catalog of Type, published by Princeton Architectural Press.
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